I think that one of the things I find most exciting is planting up a new border. It is really easier to start with a completely blank canvas. Yesterday Polly and I went over to Harriet Baring’s house which is set in the middle of fields surrounded by goats and sheep, and ubiquitous chickens which I would not like in my garden, scratching and foraging everywhere! Harriet grabbed one of them by the neck to remove it. I would not even like the feel of that. It was lucky I had not taken the dogs, who were chased by three large white geese flapping their wings. I will never forget it.
The border is quite long and backed with a red brick wall, which is higher on the left hand side. It has a very ramshackle door which leads through into a vegetable and rose garden, with an unexpectedly elegant white greenhouse, and beyond that a stream with snowdrops. In two years her Ashwood hellebores look as if they have been there for five years. Her first border is really beginning to look something. What is interesting about Harriet’s garden is that although new it has atmosphere. What we did was make a list of plants that we thought would suit it, and placed tall canes and medium canes for the appropriate sizes of the plants. We then made Harriet get on the telephone to try and source some of the more unusual plants. We are having two more buttresses of the Fagus sylvatica for continuity, and at the very end of the border are going to plant Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’ which gets quite large in the end and is the aristocrat of shrubs. In the left hand corner by the ramshackle door is going Miscanthus ‘Cabaret’ which is fresh green and white stripes, again large, and three Rose Mutabalis, one on its own and two together. These will be under planted with Aster laevis, a very pretty species aster, and Sedum ‘Matrona’ as she has plenty to divide from the left hand border. We are going to get hold of five Sanguisorba stipulata. The theme for the border will be fresh green and white, and maroon and deep pinks. Harriet also wants rose ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ on the back wall. This is not really a climber, but will if encouraged. Polly planted a lot of Aconitum ‘Royal Flush’, red foliage initially, and then deep blue flowers waist height in September and October. I think her second border is full of promise.